MarketingWeek.com, a marketing group from England just published an article on their Five Trends that they believe will reshape media in the coming year. Amid rather obvious ones like e-commerce will grow, so will video, and Instagram is becoming more useful than Facebook for marketing, were two interesting quotes with implications for church communications and marketing in the coming year. Below are the quotes, my comments, and implication and ideas for church communications that were inspired by them:
Consumers will call brands out if they think they are driving them to a social platform just to transact.
Darren Campbell, Dr Martens
IMPLICATIONS & IDEAS:
When a church uses social media in their outreach, how does it come across to people outside the church (assuming they see it)?
This quote got me wondering how much of what churches put out there comes across as simply selling something— “Come to this event!, Bring your Kids HERE!!, Don’t miss out on this!!!
We may protest that we aren’t asking them to spend money (not yet, they must become more involved to be approached with that), but we are asking them to spend time and attention in exchange for our message. We want them to buy into what we are selling.
The bottom line is that is what we want, for them to buy into what we are selling—we want them to come to know Jesus as Savior, have their sins forgiven and live a life serving him. But what if our audience has no idea this is of benefit to them? Or why they should even come to a place that has a pre-packaged life-plan for them to accept?
What is the alternative?
Here’s an idea: What are the needs in your community? Or more narrowly the people you know or want to reach? Are parenting skills lacking? Food scarcity or lack of training on how to prepare healthy meals? Seniors who are lonely with no one to help with basic chores?
Once you identify a need and put together a program to solve it, then use your social media to get the word out that your church is willing to give first, to make yourself known before you begin inviting.
One idea might be following the lead of what I saw in our area someone where recently started advertising a “trash valet” service in a senior mobile home park. I don’t know much about the specifics of that program but imagine a church who saw the same need because in this park (and many are like this) seniors had to put their trash in four central trash dumpsters for weekly pick-up. That meant they had to get the trash to the dumpster and put it in. The need was that many of the seniors who live in the park were either handicapped or not strong enough to do what would be a simple, quick task for someone younger and stronger. If a church had a team who did that once a week, not only will seniors sing the praises of a church, but I would imagine they will tell their kids and grandkids about the church also. After a few months of that, the church could drop by an invitation to a service or event (with of course website and social media links) and at that time it would be coming from a friend, not just a church down the street trying to get converts.
There are many ways a church can reach out before it invites people in. It seems like Jesus did a lot of healing and feeding people before he taught them. Let’s pray for inventiveness to do likewise.
“Advertising in podcasts has increased in sophistication this year, with the help of new measurement tools to demonstrate its effectiveness. Ads in the form of a message delivered by the podcast host have proved to be an incredibly authentic way for brands to deliver a call to action.
“Rather than simply buying audio impressions, podcasts deliver immersive experiences for listeners and opportunities for brands to be part of amazing settings, be it a thought-provoking conversation or a major sporting event.”
IMPLICATIONS & IDEAS
Podcasts are exploding in popularity and are very easy to do. The “advertising” we might do in a podcast could be presenting the gospel message in the context of useful information to a listener who might not otherwise sit down to listen to a sermon.
There are many topics you could do, again from community service to Bible-content teaching. I’m experimenting with this myself (www.Bible805.com). I dearly love some younger people in my life, but they don’t live near me and some who do are not interested in sitting down and having me preach to them. And as many times as I’ve told them how important it is to read their Bibles, I’ve never felt like I was getting anywhere. So, I started a podcast and they are listening. I’ve even got positive email feedback on it!
This is still very new and I’m going to be trying various things and writing more about podcasts. I wrote about how I do mine with Anchor.com and an inexpensive microphone,
One important clarification—by doing a podcast I don’t mean putting up the pastor’s sermons only. Of course, you want them available online, but maybe someone in your church could do reviews of family friendly events or budget or cooking tips or Bible podcasts with a slightly different topic than what they might expect (I do a lot with history and the Bible, something people seem to find interesting).
The core idea is the same as the one above—to give your audience something they are interested in or find useful before you give them the message YOU want them to hear.